Becks Cottage Pie
Many of us have them, bet you do too, those comforting dishes embraced in tradition, foods whose flavors or scents conjure up meaningful memories of holiday occasions, special times with family and friends.
Sometimes recipes of special dishes eventually evolve within their story line to even include the name of the person who prepares it like ‘Mom’s Turkey Stuffing,’ or ‘Nana’s Chocolate Cookies.’ Some favorites might even be named to honor the person who inspired the dish such as today’s “Becks Cottage Pie” where upon its recent preparation in my household landed its own definitive name as such.
Technically, it was really Becks mother, Nicola, who inspired the dish, and I first prepared it after researching Cottage Pie like a dissertation, piecing together the desired ingredients combination whose early on intended loving outcome was meant to connect a comforting piece of Becks homeland in Wales to our American University Field Hockey Tailgates upon Becks arrival as a member of the team over five years ago now.
I know I’ve shared, at least within the body of a former Tailgating Post on Spiced Peach Blog, that the first appearance of this Cottage Pie was met with a beaming smiling face by Becks, well, all until shock ensued at the Tailgate table just minutes later. Having anticipated an extra take-away extra package of her homeland comfort food, a mere green pea remained.
Subsequent tailgates then set forth 2 much larger casserole size dishes, enough for Becks to snag a bit extra for later on, early on in the buffet.
Eventually Cottage Pie began making its appearance at other gatherings, team dinners hosted at our house, then moving on as a permanent feature for at least one of the meals whenever Becks would visit over holiday seasons or otherwise.
Really, I should thank my youngest, Alex the Athlete for being talented and fortunate enough to not only to play on such a great team in college, but also for the blessing of such great lifetime friends like Becks. Ah. Those treasured fleeting moments of college field hockey matches and big team family tailgates, those days we would literally truck my Grams old convection oven from Philadelphia to DC, along with a suitable extension cord, enabling serving up steaming hot entrees each to be shared.
Tradition. I can’t wait to see Becks when she visits from Wales in a few weeks and perhaps maybe, just for old times sake, I should one night prepare this special dish whose story line and title named, Becks Cottage Pie, continues on its inspiration with meaningful memories of special times. Cheers Becksie!
- 1 casserole dished, well greased
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 1/2 cups beef stock
- 5-6 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2- 2 cups green peas
- pinch or two coarse kosher salt, plus more adjusted to taste
- few grinds cracked black pepper
- 1/2-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- For the Mashed Potatoes:
- 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup half and half, plus additional for thinning potatoes
- two pinches ground nutmeg
- 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into small even sized pieces
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut into four pieces
- 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt, more or less to taste
- On very low heat, pour oil into a large sized Dutch oven, tumble in the onions and carrots cook around ten minutes, sprinkle in the thyme and garlic, cook another two minutes, spoon in the tomato paste, stir, cook three to four minutes
- Add in the ground meat, increase the heat temperature to medium, stir ground beef with the vegetable mixture and occasionally until the meat is cooked through, sprinkle in the flour, stir, let flour cook three to four minutes
- Pour in the red wine, reduce around five minutes, pour in the beef stock, shake in the Worcestershire sauce, stir, place lid onto the pot and cook gently on low heat around thirty-five minutes or longer, until most of the liquid has absorbed
- Meanwhile, prepare the Mashed Potatoes, In a small bowl beat together the egg yolk, half and half, and nutmeg, set aside
- Tumble peeled potatoes into a large sized pot and cover with water by a few inches, sprinkle in a couple of pinches of salt, boil on high heat until potatoes are fork tender, drain, then return cooked potatoes back to the pot then return the pot back to the burner heating on the lowest temperature shaking the pot to dry the potatoes a bit. With the heat still on, mash potatoes with a hand masher then drop in the butter, continuing to mash, sprinkle in the salt, mash again then pour in the egg and half and half mixture, remove potato masher giving it a good whack against the side of the pan then use an electric mixer to mash the potatoes until creamy, check seasoning, adjust to taste, add a bit more half and half for thinning out a bit. Transfer mashed potatoes to a pastry bag fitted with a large round sized decorating tip for piping all around the top of the
- Once the Cottage Pie mixture has mostly absorbed its liquid,
- tumble in the peas, sprinkle in the salt and pepper, stir, check seasoning and adjust to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer mixture to the greased casserole spreading evenly across
- Pipe mashed potatoes around the top of the Cottage Pie leaving no open gaps then sprinkle the cheddar cheese all across, cover lightly with aluminum foil and bake around thirty-five minutes or longer until hot and bubbly, remove aluminum foil and broiling the top of Cottage Pie melting the cheese to a golden color, let sit at least ten minutes, cut into squares and serve